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(1/5) Timewatch Himmler, Hitler and the End of the Reich

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Published on Apr 15, 2009

World War II Second World War Videos
By the spring of 1945, Himmler had lost faith in German victory. He came to the realization that if the Nazi regime was to have any chance of survival, it would need to seek peace with Britain and the United States. Toward this end, he contacted Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden at Lübeck, near the Danish border, and began negotiations.
When Hitler discovered this, Himmler was declared a traitor and stripped of all his titles and ranks the day before Hitler committed suicide. Hitler's successor as Chancellor of Germany was Joseph Goebbels. At the time of Himmler's denunciation, he held the positions of Commanding General of the SS, Chief of the German Police, Realm Commissioner of German Nationhood, Realm Minister of the Interior, Supreme Commander of the People's Storm (Volkssturm), and Supreme Commander of the Home Army.
Unfortunately for Himmler, his negotiations with Count Bernadotte failed. Since he could not return to Berlin, he joined Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, who by then was commanding all the German forces within the northern part of the western front, in nearby Plön. Dönitz immediately sent Himmler away, explaining that there was no place for him in the German government.
Himmler next turned to the Americans as a defector, contacting the headquarters of General Dwight Eisenhower and proclaiming he would surrender all of Germany to the Allies if he was spared from prosecution as a Nazi leader. Eisenhower refused to have anything to do with Himmler, who was subsequently declared a major war criminal.
Unwanted by his former colleagues and hunted by the Allies, Himmler wandered for several days near the Danish border, around Flensburg, the capital of the Dönitz government. Attempting to evade arrest, he disguised himself as a sergeant-major of the Secret Military Police, using the name Heinrich Hitzinger, shaving his mustache and donning an eye patch over his left eye, in the hope that he could return to Bavaria. He had equipped himself with a full set of false documents, but someone whose papers were wholly "in order" was so unusual that it aroused the suspicions of a British Army unit in Bremen. He was arrested on May 22, and, in captivity, was soon recognized.
Himmler was scheduled to stand trial with other German leaders as a major war criminal at Nuremberg, but committed suicide in Lüneburg by swallowing a potassium cyanide capsule before interrogation could begin. His last words were "Ich bin Heinrich Himmler!" ("I am Heinrich Himmler!"). Shortly afterward, Himmler's body was secretly buried in an unmarked grave on the Lüneburg Heath. The precise location of Himmler's grave remains unknown.

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